December 19th, 2007 – by: geokid
I just turned left off of Highway 62 onto the access road to Real de Catorce. This turn is about 11km west of Cedral.
Real de Catorce is located in the Catorce mountain range, state of San Luis Potosi at about 2,750 meters above sea level. The easiest access is a cobble stone road about 11km west of Cedral off of highway 62. The entrance to Real de Catorce via this route is through a historic mining tunnel. The tunnel is a one lane toll of about 2400 meters in length. Silver was discovered in 1778 and the miners camp of Alamos was founded. The camp grew rapidly with miners and adventurers searching for their fortune. In 1780 the camp was officially named Purisima Conception de los Catorce. Catorce was inaccessible, no water source and supplies were difficult to get.
View of old mine workings. Notice the talus slopes.
At first there was no law to keep order. Silvestre Lopez Portillo, a native of Guatemala, took control and attempted to enforce the laws. Portillo brought Catorce into the royal mining system naming it Real de Minas de Nuestra Señora de la Limpia Concepción de Guadalupe de los Alamos de Catorce (Royal Mines of Our Lady of Conception of Guadalupe of the Fourteen Poplars). Quickly the silver production ranked Real de Catorce as the third largest producer in New Spain. Real de Catore's mining operations did not survive the War of Independence of 1910, the mines were intentionally flooded. The mining operations never recovered. There may be hope to return to mining as the price of silver increases. Several modern exploration and mining concerns are working to revive the mining in this area. Real de Catorce had grown to about 15,000; by 1910 the population was less than 1,000 and eventually fell to 200. St. Francis of Assisi, historically celebrated on October 4 of each year in Real de Catorce, is now celebrated from September 20 until late October. During this Catholic pilgrimage the Huicholes arrive at the valley of Catorce to collect peyote. They worship at Cerro Quemado to make offerings to their gods.